Legumes; pillar of the Mediterranean diet and shield against type 2 diabetes

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Legumes are a great source of amino acids and protein. They form the basis of the Mediterranean diet, widely regarded to be the most complete and healthy diet worldwide. Their nutritional benefits are numerous and have been known for decades, but a recent study confirmed that they also help prevent type 2 diabetes.

Why are legumes good for us?

Technically speaking, legumes are the seeds of leguminous plants. The most common are:

  • Alfalfa
  • Peas
  • Beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Soybeans
  • Lentils
  • Lupins
  • Peanuts
  • Carob

Legumes are an essential ingredient for the proper functioning of the human body due to their rich content of:

  • Complex carbohydrates
  • Vitamin B
  • Micronutrients such as iron, calcium, copper, carotenoids, niacin and folic acid.
  • Fibre
  • Protein

In addition to these nutrients, legumes provide few calories and have a low glycemic index. This means they help reduce cholesterol, prevent the emergence of obesity problems, and combat many digestive health problems.

An easy way to help prevent type 2 diabetes

As if all these benefits weren’t enough, recent studies have linked half a daily serving of legumes to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

More specifically, the results showed that people who consumed three weekly servings of legumes had a 35% lower chance of developing this condition compared to those who ate these seeds only once a week.

Tips for cooking legumes

Chickpeas and lentils are traditionally soaked overnight in anticipation of the following day’s lunch. While such cooking methods may seem mysterious or antiquated, grandmothers often know best.

The first reason is that soaking softens the legumes, thus reducing the number of hours they need to be cooked. The second reason is that soaking these seeds for several hours reactivates their enzymes, and with them the beneficial properties for our health.

In short, if we want to maximise the benefits we obtain from legumes, it is best to soak them in water between 4 and 8 hours before cooking. This will produce a dish that is easier to digest and from which its nutrients will be absorbed more efficiently.

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